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4) Matthew 6 - Lord's prayer (continued)
Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.  This part of the prayer begins a series of three petitions for self, but,
they follow those which glorify God and put man in his right place before God.  Man is oriented toward God and
consumed with a real passion for His kingdom, turns to three personal needs:  food, forgiveness and fortification.

Our daily bread.  Matthew and Luke (Luke 11:3) use one of those rare words in Greek that is so rare it has been
found only once elsewhere in the history of the Greek language:  epiousios, usually translated "daily."  Since word
meaning is discoverable from the many examples of the way people use the word, epiousios is almost incapable of
translation.

The only other place that the word was found was on a woman's shopping list which contained an item beside which
this word had been written.  Experts assume that the word means "for the coming day," that is, as we arise in the
morning we pray, "Give us today the bread for this day which lies before us."  Others, deriving the Greek word from
various roots, construe it to mean: "necessary for existence," or "for the following day," or "bread for the future," or
"bread that comes to the day that belongs to it" or "bread for the next day."  Whatever the actual meaning of the
word, the best explanation must take into account, "Give us today (Matthew) and everyday day by day (Luke 19:47,
Acts 17:11).
1)  Ours is a NECESSARY dependence upon God for anything that sustains life, for "bread" does not mean just so
much wheat baked and cut in a certain way (Psalms 37:3-4 and 25, Acts 17:25-28).  And since our dependence is
necessary, we must neither presume upon nor despair of God's provision (Matthew 4:3-4).
2)  Ours is a DAILY dependence upon God: "today," "day by day."  As long as it is called "today," we do not need
tomorrow's bread (Matthew 6:34, Psalms 127:2).  This kind of trust cancels that anxious worry about the distant and
unknown future which is so characteristic of the life that has not learned to depend upon the Father.  As a matter of
fact, we are given only one day at a time with which to live anyway:  every morning of the world is always another
"today," never a feared tomorrow.

The Jews had to learn this (Exodus 16:1-21) and so must we (James 4:13-16).  But this dependence does not
dispense with our daily work for today's bread (Ephesians 4:28, 1st Thessalonians 4:11-12, 1st Thessalonians 5:14,
2nd Thessalonians 3:6-13, 1st Timothy 5:8).  Rather, it is an acknowledgement of God's power working in us to earn
that which He provides (Genesis 3:19, Deuteronomy 8:1-20, especially v18).  Each day we must work as well as
pray for food, since without God we can do nothing and without our effort and collaboration God will do nothing for
us.  It is for bread that we ask, not luxuries.  What a rebuke is this of our constant struggle and straining after more
and more of this world's good things of life!  Since all we have has been given to us, our pride and selfishness are
thereby rebuked.  We are debtors to God for every bit of sunshine or rain, every mineral and every faithful farmer
that has been given to provide us our bread; otherwise we would have starved.  Jesus is trying to teach us total
dependence upon God.
Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  Having asked God to provide food
that we might live, we immediately confess that we have no right to live.  By asking His forgiveness for not having
lived perfectly, we admit that it is only by His grace that we could even hope to live.  But before we are able sincerely
to beseech God's forgiveness, we must honestly face the fact that we need to pray for it.

Our debts, is a figurative phrase meaning "sins" (Luke 11:4), especially those sins of omission.  When some deed of
love is left undone, that failure is sin and becomes something owed but not paid.  Are we always sincere when we
say these words?  Would we really want God to use this measure on us?  Have we really forgiven even if the
offence has been committed 70 times seven?  One must be fully aware of what he is doing when he utters this
frightening petition, for it is quite clear that if one prays it with some unsettled quarrel or some unhealed grudge or
animosity, he is asking God NOT to forgive him!  Our forgiving others is not a meritorious act in itself which
somehow obligates God to forgive, without regard to other factors, just anyone who chooses to forgive an offence.  
Only Christ's death can be the ground for our being pardoned (Acts 4:12, Romans 3:22-26, Romans 5:6-11,
Hebrews 9:14 and 22 and 26-28, Hebrews 10:10 and 12 and 14).  But our forgiving others IS a condition or
necessary qualification for our petition under God's grace.
1)  Because forgiveness is a quality which demands of us that moral disposition seen in the Father when He forgives
  us.  By exercising mercifulness, we grow to be more and more like the Father (Luke 6:36).
2)  Because there is no virtue more becoming those of our sinful condition:  we need mercy!
3)  Because mercy and forgiveness bring with them humility, self-denial, love and peace-making.  Jesus offers a
  simple safeguard against men's praise.  If we remember that they are sinners in need of God's mercy as well as
  our forgiveness, this fact greatly reduces the value of their praise in our own eyes.  What a difference does it
  make to a condemned man whether his fellow criminals think highly of him or not?

Matthew 6:13 And bring us not into temptation.  But is God so wicked as to expose any one of His creatures to
temptation?  To ask is to formulate the wrong question, since we are not to blame God for our temptations (James
1:13), because He is not the real source of our temptations (James 1:14-15).
The first part of the answer is found in the meaning of the word usually translated temptation.  Its primary meaning is
"to put to a test, to test, to prove; hence, any such trial or test that reveals the quality of the thing tested."  By
extension of meaning, these words take on the additional significance:  "to test with a view to discover one's
weakness in order to cause him thereby to sin."

God does put men to tests that try their strength, loyalty and their ability for further service.  Although God does
permit Satan to tempt us, these temptations are, as far as He is concerned, tests of our loyalty to Him.  He does
force us to make the moral choice involved in any trial.  God's purpose is to make us decide, causing us to grow.  
We rejoice in those trials which assail us, knowing that they help to produce in us steadfastness and perfection of
character.  We must not desire to be tempted, for only fools rush into temptations where the Son of God says it is
dangerous to tread!  Jesus knew the power of the evil one, and here He warns against a foolish man seeking to be
tempted.
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